David Stewart is a Labour MSP for Highlands & Islands, which includes Moray – today he writes exclusively for insideMoray in our regular series penned by Moray’s parliamentary representatives.…..David Stewart MSP
I am a great supporter of our local Police and the work they have to do sometimes in difficult circumstances.
Recently I did query the crime detection rate for Moray and the 1% reduction in reported crime, but this I was told was in relation to the year ending 31 March 2014. These statistics showed that the overall detection rate in Moray was 46% unlike other areas such as Highlands, Argyll & Bute or any of the Islands. It was even lower than Glasgow city, all of which showed a positive improving upward trend.
Of course you cannot compare like for like and I was advised by the Chief Constable that Moray was susceptible to a problem with acquisitive crime which was because it was targeted by a certain group of persons. I was also advised that I could not compare Moray to other large rural scattered areas such as the Highlands and Islands.
I have, therefore, recently ascertained the most recent recorded crime figures and also the detection rates for all the areas within the Highlands & Islands including Moray. If we take Inverness for example, reported crime over the period referred to, was 2486. In relation to Moray this figure was 2006, 480 crimes less. Yet Inverness had a detection rate of 66% and Moray now 51%.
I am not doubting for one minute the endeavour of the hard working front line Officers in Moray. What I am challenging is the fact that there must be a reason why Moray has the lowest detection rate. Rightly or wrongly I have been advised that staff are being abstracted away from the area and also away from the front line.
However, on this occasion Police Scotland advised it was not possible to enlighten me with regards Police staffing levels. In my previous communication they were happy to advise the number for the Moray and Aberdeenshire Division.
I understand that the local Chief Inspector has said on this occasion that there are always likely to be variances in the overall staff number, but he believed it always remained more or less the same. He also advised that it is not always best to compare Moray with larger urban areas like Inverness.
My interest, is ensuring that those residing in, visiting, or working in Moray, receive the same standards as those in other rural and urban areas.
Driving a constituent out of Moray
In my postbag recently was a letter from a constituent from Moray who suffered a stroke six months ago. As expected, he surrendered his driving licence. Fortunately this person is making a good recovery, but on learning the procedure to be adopted in applying for his driving licence back, he has learned that this involves a process which entails a driving assessment.
However, he has been advised that he needs to travel to Edinburgh to have this assessment carried out.
It used to be the case that the DVLA would come out and visit the main population centres across Scotland, now apparently medical driving assessments are carried out in Edinburgh only.
This means that people in the Highlands, Islands and Moray for example, who require to undertake this assessment, will have to travel hundreds of miles to the central belt to be assessed.
Most, if not all those affected have recovered from a serious illness, they have made good progress to get to this point, but is it fair to make them incur costs and great inconvenience to travel to Edinburgh to undertake an assessment. Allied to this there is apparently a 20 week delay in getting an appointment.
I have written to the UK Transport Minister, the Scottish Transport Minister and Health Minister and the DVLA on this issue and the latest information I have received is that another review of the service will be carried out.
Finally in this month’s column, I mention work I am undertaking for Moray constituents who want the cycle path between Forres and Brodie reinstated.
Apparently there was a path between both locations, but since 2001 when ‘Bear’ took over responsibility for this route this path has no longer been recognised. Transport Scotland have instead referred to the cycleway that meanders through Dyke as the official route.
Well that is me for another two months, but if any readers out there want me to address any issues they may have, then please get in touch via Email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01463 716299.